Free speech on Palestine!

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Emergency motion to Labour Left Alliance conference
submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt

Conference notes:

1) The circular emailed on August 12 2020 to Constituency Labour Parties by General Secretary David Evans, states that certain subjects are “not competent business for discussion by local parties” – including the so-called definition of antisemitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the forthcoming report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the outrageous settlement payment made to former employees of the Labour Party who participated in the dreadfully one-sided BBC Panorama programme by John Ware, who now co-owns the Jewish Chronicle.The full text of the email is available here.

Conference further notes:

2) Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, the EHRC report or Starmer‘s settlement. The phrase “not competent business” is meant to intimidate and self-censor us, but it is merely hot air.

3) Left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton explains:

“The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E: ‘The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…’ Conduct not content. Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.”

4) That NEC member Rachel Garnham has stated that the NEC knew nothing about this supposed instruction.

5) Shamefully, Jennie Formby also used the formulation “not competent business” to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson MP. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris! No disciplinary action was taken against any of them.

Conference believes:

6) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Keir Starmer. This is a clear misuse of party funds and an insult to all Labour members and the former employees have brought the party into disrepute. With his email, David Evans clearly wants to shut down debate on this and other important issues.

7) The Labour Party was wrong to adopt the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as part of the futile attempt to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby in- and outside the party. It is designed to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism in its list of eleven examples and is an integral part of the witch-hunt against the left.

8) These are clearly important issues that must remain legitimate subjects for debate at Labour branch and CLP meetings. The witch-hunt against the left was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Corbyn movement, and Keir Starmer is intent on further expanding it. Thousands of left-wingers have been hounded, smeared, vilified and wrongly accused of being antisemites during the last five years, while the number of suspensions and expulsions has massively increased in recent weeks. Standing by is not an option for us. Are

Conference resolves:

9) The Labour Left Alliance will urgently produce a model motion for Labour Party branches and CLPs on this issue. This shall also express no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans.

10) The LLA shall seek to build a united campaign with Labour branches, CLPs, trade union branches and other organisations around the slogan ‘Free Speech on Palestine’.

The campaign shall also seek cooperation with the initiative on ‘Free Speech’ initiated by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth, which has held a couple of excellent online debates.

Some of the initiatives the campaign could organise:

  • days of action where we protest outside local Labour Party offices and/or Labour Party HQ
  • a campaigning website
  • model motions

 

Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!

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Download as a Word file here

1. This branch/CLP notes with great concern: 

a) Keir Starmer’s July 22 2020 apology and payment of ‘damages’ in six figures to the former Labour Party employees who participated in the dreadful and one-sided BBC Panorama programme on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

b) That the legal advice received by the Labour Party reportedly stated that the party had a very good chance to win the libel case pursued by the ‘whistleblowers’ featured in the programme.
c) That in the wake of this settlement, there are reports of “at least 42 further civil claims” against the party (Daily Telegraph July 24 2020), among them from BBC journalist John Ware and former general secretary Iain McNicol.

d) That the settlement has been used to demand that Starmer withdraws the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.

e) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Starmer. Continue Reading “Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!”

Model motion: Suspension of two NEC candidates

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Please continue to nominate Jo Bird for a seat on the NEC – she has had well over 100 nominations. Mo Azam has sadly withdrawn.

Model motion: Suspension of two NEC candidates

This CLP calls upon General Secretary, Jennie Formby, to immediately suspend the nominations process for CLP NEC representatives, until the investigations into the two suspended candidates has been concluded. We also submit that all nominations submitted, should stand, until the conclusion of the investigation.

We further call on the Gen Sec to ensure that the investigation is expedited, whilst ensuring due process is maintained for the accused, and that nominations submitted should be honoured, should the accused be exonerated.
This CLP is deeply concerned that should the process proceed, without the two leading candidates, at the time of suspension, it could:

  • Bring into disrepute the election process; and
  • Question the legitimacy of any subsequently elected candidate, who will be seen to have unjustly benefitted from the two suspensions, especially should those suspended be later exonerated.

We also ask that, once the investigation has concluded, the Gen Sec should investigate the wider problem of politicised complaints against members, who are merely exercising the right to legitimate free speech and political commentary.

We believe that complaints, originating from groups external to Labour, should be treated with care and not lead to the automatic suspension of accused members, as this can then be used to undermine the Party by hostile media.

Model motions: Reject the 10 Pledges by the Board of Deputies

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Please click here for some advice on how to move a motion or emergency motion in the Labour Party.

LAW model motion

1) This branch/CLP notes:

  1. That all candidates standing for the position of Labour leader have signed up to the 10 Pledges issued by the Board of Deputies, including Rebecca Long-Bailey.
  2. That the BoD is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation and has supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. It encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).
  3. That the BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

2) We believe:

  1. That it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference.
  2. That the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for.
  3. They are an attack on free speech and would create a dangerous atmosphere of (self-) censorship.
  4. If implemented, the pledges could concretely lead to:
    • The suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who dare to stand in solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth.
    • The BoD and other pro-Zionist organisations would decide who can and cannot be a member of the Labour Party. For example, the pledges demand a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker” – both of whom have fought against racism for their entire life.
    • The handing over of confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies” (by which the BoD chiefly means itself).
    • The official sidelining and proscription of non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour, which are described as a “fringe organisation”.

We therefore call on all candidates in the Labour leadership election to officially distance themselves from these pledges and commit themselves to fight for a Labour Party that values and protects free speech, open debate and stands in international solidarity with the people in Palestine.


Motion passed by Ilford South LP branch

This branch condemns the Board of Deputies attempts at interference in the Labour party leadership election by demanding that candidates sign 10 pledges, one of which suggests outsourcing the Labour party’s disciplinary processes to a third party.

Their demands reflect the views of only one section of the British Jewish community, but they seek to proscribe the views of other Jewish groups who don’t agree with them, labelling them as fringe groups to be ignored and discounted.

The Board has been consistent in its support for the Conservative party, fulsomely welcoming the election of Boris Johnson, whose writings and actions expose a racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic mindset, yet they make no criticism of this or the fact that the Tory party members aren’t bound by the IHRA definition

This branch particularly notes that the pledges breach free speech and human rights, and do not include all forms of racism. They do not represent the diversity that exists in our branch or the country as a whole.

Accordingly we call upon candidates to reject this interference and review any decisions to sign the pledges and urge any candidates that have not thus far signed to reject their demands.


Draft Emergency motion

This CLP utterly condemns the ultimatum to the Labour Party and its leadership candidates by the Jewish Board of Deputies.

To accept their “Ten Pledges” (attached) would be to put the Labour party under the permanent control of an undemocratic right-wing group and prevent any attempt to speak up for the Palestinian people against a hard-right Israeli government. It is an unprecedented and quite blatant attack on free speech.

We note that:

  • The Jewish Board of Deputies represents only the minority of British Jews who attend Orthodox synagogues and that some of those synagogues refuse to allow women to vote.
  • The Chief Rabbi has described Boris Johnson as “a longstanding friend of the Jewish community” and congratulated him warmly on his election as Conservative Party leader.
  • The former Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party
  • The Jewish Labour Movement, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, is in no sense a representative organisation, in that its members don’t have to be Labour Party members and don’t even have to be Jewish. Further, it is only open to people who are explicitly Zionist and therefore excludes many left wing Jews.
  • All of the above organisations have refused to meet with the Jewish Voice for Labour group to discuss their views on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in a calm and civilised way.
  • Independent research carried out by Jewish and other organisations has clearly shown that anti-Semitism is more common on the right of politics than the left.
  • All of these facts are well-documented and easy to confirm.

We call on both the NEC and all leadership candidates to distance themselves from this attack on the Labour Party.

Successful CLP motion passed in support of Chris Williamson

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PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that, again, in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. Labour Against the Witchhunt have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion.

Passed by Chesham and Amersham CLP, October 24 2019

This CLP notes with concern:

1) The judgement of the High Court:

– that the Labour Party had ‘acted unfairly’ in retrospectively re-imposing the suspension of Chris Williamson MP following the decision of a panel of The National Executive committee to reinstate his membership

– that “there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson”:

– and that this act was “unlawful”:

2) the misuse of precious Labour Party funds to defend this unlawful procedure in the High Court;

3) the further persecution by the Labour Party in arbitrarily imposing on Chris Williamson a second suspension.

We therefore call on the General Secretary to:

1) lift the suspension of Chris Williamson forthwith;

2) end the practice of instant expulsions and suspensions

3) conduct a comprehensive review of the part’s legal, disciplinary and disputes procedures: and

4) ensure that all future disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP

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So far, at least 29 CLPs, 9 Momentum branches and dozens of trade union bodies and left Labour organisations have come out in solidarity with Chris Williamson MP (we know of couple of other CLPs where it was decided not to publish the successful resolution). Each CLP has an average of 800 members, so you can calculate for yourself how that compares with the very few MPs who have demanded Chris’ scalp.

PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion. Click here for a number of model motions.

Feel free to download, share and use our memes. Continue Reading “Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP”

Model motions on Chris Williamson’s court case and new suspension

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Here are a number of motions currently going forward in various branches and CLPs. Feel free to chop and change.

PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that, again, in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. Labour Against the Witchhunt have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion.

1) Motion on Chris Williamson court case

This branch/CLP notes with concern
  1. the judgement of the High Court that the Labour Party had “acted unfairly” in retrospectively re-imposing suspension of Chris Williamson MP following the decision of a panel of the National Executive Committee to reinstate his membership; that “there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson”; and that this act was “unlawful”;
  2. the misuse of precious Labour Party funds to defend this unlawful procedure in the High Court;
  3. the further persecution by the Labour Party in arbitrarily imposing on Chris Williamson a second suspension.
We consider the entire report by Judge Pepperall a damning indictment of our party’s internal disciplinary procedures, and declare our loss of confidence in the integrity of the current disciplinary process, rendering it unfit for purpose.
We therefore call on the General Secretary to:
  1. lift the suspension of Chris Williamson MP forthwith;
  2. end the practice of instant expulsions and suspensions;
  3. reinstate the membership of all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process;
  4. conduct a comprehensive review of the party’s legal, disciplinary and disputes procedures; and
  5. ensure that all future disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
* * * *
For your information, here are some background notes…
Chris Williamson MP was suspended on February 27. On June 26, a three-person antisemitism panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee voted to reinstate Williamson. This was made up of Keith Vaz MP, Huda Elmi and Gerarld Howarth MP. On June 27, following a public campaign against the decision led by Tom Watson, Keith Vaz claimed that he was undergoing medical procedures and felt that he had “not been fit” to consider any of the cases dealt with that day. On June 28, general secretary Jennie Formby informed all NEC members that the decision of the panel would be revisited by the full NEC Disputes Panel. This decided on July 9 that Williamson was suspended again and on July 19 it referred Williamson’s case to the party’s National Constitutional Committee.
In his judgement of October 10 2019, judge Edward Pepperall ruled that “the party acted unfairly” in re-suspending Chris Williamson MP on July 9 and that “there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson and referring the original allegations to the NCC”. Judge Pepperall declared the re-suspension “unlawful” and that “the Labour Party is no longer able lawfully to pursue the original [February 27] disciplinary case against Mr Williamson”. Judge Pepperall explained that it was “not difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision [to re-suspend Chris] in this case was that [NEC] members were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June decision.” He referenced Tom Watson organising a public letter of 90 MPs and peers and another letter by 70 Labour staffers, demanding that Jeremy Corbyn strip Williamson of the whip. He also mentioned Margaret Hodge’s claim that the decision meant the “party is turning a blind eye to Jew-hate”. The judge made scathing criticisms of Keith Vaz, who “by June 27 appears to have had seconds thoughts about the matter” by raising “issues about his health”. “It would be surprising if, as an experienced Parliamentarian, Mr Vaz, a) had taken part in an important meeting if he felt himself unfit to do so; and b) then failed to clearly make that point in his subsequent email.” Further, the judge thinks it “surprising” that neither George Howarth nor Huda Elmi “raised the issue of his fitness either at the time or subsequently”.
On September 3, a week before the hearing started, the Labour Party issued Chris Williamson with a second suspension on top of his first one. These new allegations, listed in the judgement, clearly do not warrant a suspension: “sending an email to a member of the public who had complained to you about your criticism of Margaret Hodge MP that referred her to a video critical of Margaret Hodge; publicly legitimising or endorsing the misconduct of members or former members who have been found grossly detrimental or prejudicial to the Labour Party; publicly characterising the disciplinary process of the party as politically motivated and/or not genuine. However, as the party had followed its own constitutional procedures correctly, the judge could find “nothing inherently unfair in investigating these fresh allegations”. This is why Chris Williamson remains suspended from the party.

Please note that the press have wrongly reported that Chris Williamson lost his appeal. That is a wilful misrepresentation. He remains suspended on the new charges, on which no ruling has been made.


2) LAW model motion (long)

A shorter version is available further below.

1) This branch/CLP notes:

a) That Chris Williamson MP was suspended on February 27. On June 26, a three-person antisemitism panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee voted to reinstate Williamson. This was made up of Keith Vaz MP, Huda Elmi and Gerald Howarth MP.

b) That on June 27, following a public campaign against the decision led by Tom Watson, Keith Vaz claimed that he was undergoing medical procedures and felt that he had “not been fit” to consider any of the cases dealt with that day.

c) That on June 28, general secretary Jennie Formby informed all NEC members that the decision of the panel would be revisited by the full NEC Disputes Panel. This decided on July 9 that Williamson was suspended again and on July 19 it referred Williamson’s case to the party’s National Constitutional Committee (as this is dominated by the right, a referral usually results in expulsion).

2) We further note:

a) That in his judgement of October 10 2019, judge Edward Pepperall ruled that, “the party acted unfairly” in re-suspending Chris Williamson MP on July 9 and that “there was no proper reason for reopening the case against Mr Williamson and referring the original allegations to the NCC”. Judge Pepperall declared the re-suspension “unlawful” and that “the Labour Party is no longer able lawfully to pursue the original [February 27] disciplinary case against Mr Williamson”.

b) That judge Pepperall explains that it was “not difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision [to re-suspend Chris] in this case was that [NEC] members were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June decision.” He references Tom Watson organising a public letter of 90 MPs and peers and another letter by 70 Labour staffers, demanding that Jeremy Corbyn strip Williamson of the whip. He also mentions Margaret Hodge’s claim that the decision meant the “party is turning a blind eye to Jew-hate”.

c) That the judge makes scathing criticisms of Keith Vaz, who “by June 27 appears to have had seconds thoughts about the matter” by raising “issues about his health”. “It would be surprising if, as an experienced Parliamentarian, Mr Vaz, a) had taken part in an important meeting if he felt himself unfit to do so; and b) then failed to clearly make that point in his subsequent email.” Further, the judge thinks it “surprising” that neither George Howarth nor Huda Elmi “raised the issue of his fitness either at the time or subsequently”.

d) That Labour Party HQ repeatedly briefed against Chris Williamson in the media – including the release of private details about his case – which resulted in him being abused and smeared in public by wild and unsubstantiated allegations. Meanwhile, he was not allowed to defend himself, as he was required to sign a confidentiality statement. As opposed to Labour Party HQ, he fully complied with this requirement. In fact, the judge was so concerned about those leaks that he even asked the Party lawyers for them to discontinue.

3) We note with great concern, however:

a) That on September 3, a week before the hearing started, the Labour Party issued Chris Williamson with a second suspension on top of his first one.

b) That these new allegations, listed in the judgement, clearly do not warrant a suspension:

  • “Sending an email to a member of the public who had complained to you about your criticism of Margaret Hodge MP that referred her to a video” which was critical of Margaret Hodge.
  • “Publicly legitimising or endorsing the misconduct of members or former members” who have been found “grossly detrimental or prejudicial to the Labour Party” – ie, standing up for Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone etc.
  • “Publicly characterising the disciplinary process of the party” as “politically motivated and/or not genuine”.

c) However, as the party had followed its own constitutional procedures correctly, the judge could find “nothing inherently unfair in investigating these fresh allegations”.

d) That this is why Chris Williamson remains suspended from the party.

4) This CLP believes:

a) That the report by Judge Pepperall is a damning indictment of our party’s internal disciplinary procedures. If anything, it proves that Chris Williamson was correct to criticise the disciplinary process of the party as “politically motivated” (one of the allegations leading to his September 3 suspension).

b) That Chris Williamson has said and done nothing that could be characterised as anti-Semitic or that warrants his ongoing suspension from the party. His September 3 suspension was only launched to stop him from becoming Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Derby North once again: suspended members are not allowed to stand.

c) That this shows to what length Labour HQ will go in its futile campaign to try and appease the right in the party. But they will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

d) That there is a total loss of confidence in the competence, credibility and integrity of the current disciplinary process, rendering it unfit for purpose.

e) That this brings into serious question the veracity and the credibility of this latest suspension of Chris Williamson, as well as the disciplinary measures taken against many other members.

5) We therefore call on the General Secretary Jennie Formby to:

a) Order a comprehensive overhaul of the Labour Party legal, disciplinary and disputes body. The party must end the practice of automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions and all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated. Disciplinary procedures should be carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

b) Order an investigation into the conduct of members of the NEC Disputes Panel and any Party members, including MPs, who have interfered with and corrupted disciplinary processes. On completion of such an investigation that the appropriate disciplinary measures be taken against anyone found to be in breach of procedural regulations, leaking confidential material to the press or guilty of any other misconduct.

c) Order the immediate lifting of the suspension of Chris Williamson MP and issue an apology to him.



3) Law model motion (short)

1) This branch/CLP notes:

a) That in his judgement of October 10 2019, judge Edward Pepperall ruled that, “the party acted unfairly” in re-suspending Chris Williamson MP on July 9 and that “the Labour Party is no longer able lawfully to pursue the original [February 27] disciplinary case against Mr Williamson”.

b) That judge Pepperall explains that it was “not difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision [to re-suspend Chris] was that [NEC] members were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June [26] decision.”

c) That on September 3, a week before the hearing started, the Labour Party issued Chris Williamson with a second suspension on top of his first one. These are the allegations listed in the judgment:

  • “Sending an email to a member of the public who had complained to you about your criticism of Margaret Hodge MP that referred her to a video” which was critical of Margaret Hodge.
  • “Publicly legitimising or endorsing the misconduct of members or former members” who have been found “grossly detrimental or prejudicial to the Labour Party” – ie, standing up for Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone etc.
  • “Publicly characterising the disciplinary process of the party” as “politically motivated and/or not genuine”.

d) That, as the party had followed its own constitutional procedures correctly, the judge could find “nothing inherently unfair in investigating these fresh allegations”.

e) That this is why Chris Williamson remains suspended from the party.

2) This CLP believes:

a) That the report by Judge Pepperall is a damning indictment of our party’s internal disciplinary procedures. If anything, it proves that Chris Williamson was correct to criticise the disciplinary process of the party as “politically motivated” (one of the allegations leading to his second suspension).

b) That Chris Williamson has said and done nothing that could be characterised as anti-Semitic or that warrants his ongoing suspension from the party. The September 3 suspension was only launched to stop him from becoming Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Derby North once again: suspended members are not allowed to stand.

c) That this shows to what length Labour HQ will go in its futile campaign to try and appease the right in the party. But they will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

d) That there is a total loss of confidence in the competence, credibility and integrity of the current disciplinary process, rendering it unfit for purpose.

e) That this brings into serious question the veracity and the credibility of this latest suspension of Chris Williamson, as well as the disciplinary measures taken against many other members.

3) We therefore call on the General Secretary to:

a) Order a comprehensive overhaul of the Labour Party legal, disciplinary and disputes body. The party must end the practice of automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions and all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated. Disciplinary procedures should be carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

b) Order an investigation into the conduct of members of the NEC Disputes Panel and any Party members, including MPs, who have interfered with and corrupted disciplinary processes. On completion of such an investigation that the appropriate disciplinary measures be taken against anyone found to be in breach of procedural regulations, leaking confidential material to the press or guilty of any other misconduct.

c) Order the immediate lifting of the suspension of Chris Williamson MP and issue an apology to him.


Model motions protesting against Chris Williamson’s re-suspension

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Labour Against the Witchhunt

We believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

Labour Party Northern Ireland

1. We are opposed to the original suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Given that the opinion expressed was a reasonable one, we consider that there was insufficient evidence from the outset that his comments constituted conduct that justified withdrawal of the whip.

2. We are opposed to the second suspension of Chris Williamson on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable, being as it failed to adhere to Labour Party rules and procedures governing disciplinary matters.

3. We are opposed to the disciplining of any member who publicly states that the Labour Party does not have a particular problem with anti-semitism.

4. We call on the Labour Party leadership and on all members to robustly challenge the false narrative that the Labour Party is a racist and bigoted party.


Jewish Voice for Labour

This branch/CLP notes with alarm the unprecedented over-ruling of an NEC disciplinary panel decision to lift the suspension of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, as a result of a hostile public campaign led by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Disciplinary panels have delegated powers and make their decisions in the light of material presented to them by party staff and independent advice from qualified legal counsel. To our knowledge there is no previous case of a panel decision being referred back to the NEC. For this to happen as a result of partisan political lobbying is unacceptable interference in the processes the party has been struggling to make faster, more robust and more effective. It amounts to a violation of the natural justice that members have a right to expect in the party’s disciplinary procedures.

We call upon the NEC, meeting on July 9, to reject such interference and to uphold the decision of the June 27 panel lifting Chris Williamson’s suspension.

 


We note that:

  • Chris Williamson is a  well-respected and hardworking MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning.
  • Our campaign for a Labour Government depends on the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him.
  • Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, said ”The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. …[O]ur party has been partly responsible for that because… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • Following his initial suspension (27/02/19) Chris Williamson was tried according to procedure by the 3 member panel of the NCC and the suspension was lifted (26/06/19).
  • Following the lifting of his suspension, a hostile and personal campaign against him by the Media and sections of the PLP has resulted in unprecedented action to refer his case on to the NEC (28/06/19).

We believe that Chris Williamson’s comments are not anti-Semitic.

We strongly disagree with the actions of the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who published a letter calling upon Jeremy Corbyn to overturn this decision on the basis that there has been, “political interference.”

Resolution:

This branch/ CLP reaffirms our support for Chris Williamson and we call on the NEC to reinstate Chris Williamson immediately.

How to use the new trigger ballot to deselect your MP

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Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the Labour branches of a CLP, another one for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).

Here is how it works (please note that CLPs are still awaiting written guidelines – though MPs seem to have been sent a FAQ, see below):

1) On Monday June 25, general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to all sitting MPs, asking if they want to stand again in any new general election. They will have to let her know by July 8.

2) If the MP replies ‘yes’, the CLP will organise two trigger ballots:

  • Local party members will meet in their branches and are asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. A simple majority decides if the branches is counted as a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote.
  • Local affiliates (unions and other organisations) will probably not hold democratic elections, but also have one vote each.

3) If a minimum of 33 % of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP, a full selection process starts – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Please note that, according to a FAQ apparently sent to MPs by Jennie Formby at the beginning of July (see below), “the third of branches is calculated based only on the branches that do cast a vote” – which is excellent, if indeed this is how it will be implemented.

4) Only full Labour Party members have a vote in this stage of the process.

For example: A CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates. To start a full selection process, EITHER 4 LP branches OR 4 affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP.

Click here for some background on trigger ballots and why they are so crucial to remaking the Labour Party. Also, remember that trigger ballots were only ever reformed to stop the much more democratic system of mandatory reselection going through at last year’s conference.

This FAQ was apparently sent to all MPs at the beginning of July (click on the picture to read it better)

 

 

Model motion: Reinstate Pete Willsman!

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This branch/CLP notes:

  • On May 31, Labour Party NEC member Peter Willsman was put under “administrative suspension” after he was secretly recorded by the Israeli-American author Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • The audio was recorded in January 2019, but leaked to the press over five months later, no doubt to coincide with a new hotting up in the campaign o get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

We further note:

  • Tenenbom claims that he ‘happened’ to come across Pete Willsman in a hotel bar and that his sound engineer ‘happened’ to have left a hidden microphone switched on.
  • However, Tenenbom has published a number of books in which he uses exactly this kind of method: He secretly films and records people, often guiding them into making the kind of unguarded comments he was looking for, in order to prove how anti-Semitism is rife in Germany, Palestine, the USA etc.
  • Tenenbom has given lectures in which he explains why “the suffering of Palestinian people is bullshit” (https://bit.ly/2MAH1xo) and told LBC Radio: “He [Pete Willsman] is a nice guy, he has a great sense of humour, he’s knowledgeable. But Like Jeremy Corbyn – I met Jeremy and he’s also a nice guy, very fatherly – but they suffer from a disease of really hating the Jews.” (https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/labour-israeli-embassy-behind-antisemitism-smears/)

We believe:

  • That anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, must be vigorously combatted – ideally, through education and debate, not disciplinary measures and ‘zero tolerance’.
  • That the Labour Party is not institutionally anti-Semitic, as the figures published by Jennie Formby prove. On the contrary, many claims of anti-Semitism have been taken out of context, exaggerated and weaponised in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of Palestinians. Anti-Zionism has been willfully and wrongly equated with anti-Semitism.
  • That nothing Pete Willsman said was anti-Semitic. Pete did, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which has been ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary revealed a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to involve itself in the internal battles in the Labour Party. Also revealed were the efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to label opponents of Israel as anti-Semites.
  • That this proven interference should be the subject of an overdue investigation, as demanded by Jeremy Corbyn in a letter of January 2017.

We further believe:

  • A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
  • That anti-Corbyn MPs such as Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

We therefore express our full solidarity with Pete Willsman, Chris Williamson MP and all the other Labour Party members who have been suspended, expelled or disciplined on bogus charges of anti-Semitism or because of their support for left-wing groups. We want to see them immediately reinstated.

Important information:

There is no ban in the Labour Party on moving motions in support of comrades in ongoing disciplinary cases. Like in the case Chris Williamson MP, the ‘advice’ sent out by Labour Party HQ merely declares such motions to be “not competent business” for the NEC to discuss. That merely means the NEC will not look at them – but the rest of the workers’ movement  certainly will. Any motion, any statement, any act of public solidarity will add pressure to get our comrades reinstated, gives courage to other Labour Party members and branches and assures the victims of the witch-hunt that they do not stand alone.

More info on this issue and detailed guidelines on how to move a motion are here: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/there-is-no-ban-on-moving-motions-in-support-of-chris-williamson-mp/

 

 

Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

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Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

This branch/CLP notes:

  • Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform the trigger ballot, which is currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.
  • This was moved by the NEC as part of the ‘democracy review’ and thereby superseded the much more democratic rule change for ‘open selection’ of all parliamentary candidates (which was supported by over 95% of CLP delegates at the 2018 conference).

We also note that:

  • In January 2019, Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby was commissioned by the NEC to “urgently” draw up guidelines and a timetable for the implementation of the reformed trigger ballot. Without such guidelines, CLPs cannot launch proceedings.
  • In February 2019, eight Labour Party MPs split from the party to form The Independent Group, which is currently known as Change UK.
  • The Guardian reported on February 25 that in an “attempt to stop further defections, Labour could delay the start of re-election battles” and that “Labour is set to put back the start of the formal MP selection process, due to begin in a few weeks, which could have led to vast numbers of MPs facing deselection.”
  • This is indeed what seems to have happened: At the March and May meetings of the NEC, proposals to implement the trigger ballots have not been presented and this important democratic issue seems to have been kicked into the long grass.

We further note:

  • At the snap election in 2017, CLPs were told that the sitting MP would simply remain in place, without any democratic input by the local members.
  • The ongoing Brexit crisis makes another snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government, a real possibility. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven how hostile they are to him and his politics.
  • Unless the makeup of the PLP dramatically changes to more accurately reflect the will and composition of the membership, Jeremy Corbyn could well be held prisoner by a majority of MPs who are deeply hostile to the Corbyn project.

We therefore urge the NEC to:

  • Urgently launch guidelines and a timetable to implement the trigger ballot and help branches and CLPs to get ready in case a snap election is called. Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account.
  • Rule out the possibility that Labour Party MPs will participate in any kind of ‘national government’.

Background: How the reformed trigger ballots works

Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the Labour branches of a CLP, another one for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).

Once the NEC has published its timetable (and only then) are CLP members and affiliates asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. If 33 % of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’, then a full selection process starts – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Only full Labour Party members have a vote in this next stage of the process.

For example: A CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates. To start a full selection process, EITHER 4 LP branches OR 4 affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP.

Proposed rule change motion for Labour Party conference: Open Selection

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Proposed rule change motion: Open Selection

This branch/CLP believes:

  • that being a Labour MP should not be a job for life;
  • that candidates should be selected openly without restrictions before each general election;
  • that all individual and affiliate members should be able to participate in the selection of candidates;
  • that the existing system of trigger ballots prevents this from happening and creates unnecessary antagonisms, turning what should be a normal open process into an implied vote of no confidence in a sitting Labour MP;
  • that a fully democratised Labour Party based on the principle of One Member One Vote is the best way to ensure the election of a Labour government with the strength and resolve to create a fair and just society for the many, not the few.

Therefore this branch/CLP:

  • calls upon the NEC to endorse and support the LI Rule Change motion from 2018 and to reintroduce it as an NEC rule change at the next Labour Conference;
  • moves the following rule change to Labour Party conference 2019:

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

  1. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.
  2. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.
  3. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

    Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is
    mentioned.

 

Model motion: Tom Watson should stand down

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This model motion is currently doing the rounds in branches and CLPs.

This branch/CLP notes:

  1. Under Party Rules, Clause VII, section ix. “the Deputy Leader shall provide the Leader with advice and support in achieving the goals of the Party and deputise as requested.”
  2. That in her email of 1st March to Tom Watson, Jenny Formby, the General Secretary of the Party states “You have decided without consultation or regard to due process, to ask colleagues who raise complaints with me to forward them to your private email address as you will be ‘logging and monitoring’ all complaints. It is completely inappropriate for you to set up a vague parallel complaints monitoring system … The suggestion that you as an individual data controller should receive and store data related to complaints unrelated to your personal role as an MP … is completely unacceptable and exposes you, and the Party, to significant compliance risks. Furthermore you will undermine the work that my staff and I are doing and will confuse and pollute the existing formal process, compromising it and slowing it down.”
  3. In a series of media interviews Tom Watson has declared his intention to set up an organisation of MPs to challenge the policies of the Leader and the Shadow Cabinet.

This branch/CLP CLP believes that Tom Watson’s actions seek to undermine the Party Leader, twice overwhelmingly elected by party members, and are not compatible with his remit as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

This branch/CLP calls for Tom Watson to either stand down as Deputy Leader or submit himself for re-election as Deputy Leader.

Model Motions: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

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THERE IS NO BAN! We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed guidelines on this issue here.


Model motion 1

Don’t expel Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party

This Meeting:
1. Notes the personal statement from Chris Williamson (February 27, published in full below).
2. Is opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.
3. Does not believe Chris Williamson MP should be expelled from the Labour Party.

APPENDIX/NOTE: Chris Williamson’s personal message.

The Labour Party is an anti-racist party. It is the only party that has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with religious and ethnic minorities in their decades-long fight against racism, discrimination and prejudice in the United Kingdom.

On a personal level, I have been an anti-racist all my life. As a former member of the Anti-Nazi League. I participated in direct action to confront foul anti-Semites in the streets. I reject racism ethically and morally. It has no place in the Labour Party or in our country.

It pains me greatly, therefore, that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimise the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-Semitism.

I deeply regret, and apologise for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.

Our movement can never be “too apologetic” about racism within our ranks. Whilst it is true that there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue – it is also true that those few are too many.

It is precisely because of our party’s historic struggle against racism that we have taken it upon ourselves to strengthen our rules, to improve our disciplinary procedures and to redouble our efforts to take on anti-Semites. We have held ourselves to a higher standard than any other political party when it comes to anti-racism – and rightly so.

I am therefore sorry for how I chose to express myself on this issue within our party. This is a fight that I want to be an ally in.

In future, I will take it upon myself to be more considered in my remarks. and ensure they reflect the Labour Party’s unswerving and unfaltering commitment to anti-racism and the fight against anti-Semitism.


Model motion 2

This Constituency Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.

  • The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
  • Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.
  • Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby, the general secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and demanding that Chris is reinstated immediately. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk) 
  • Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)
  • Invite Chris Williamson to a local rally/meeting in support of his reinstatement
  • Support the key aims of Labour Against the Witchhunt: 1) An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions. 2) Rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. 3) Abolition of Labour’s ‘compliance unit.’ (http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/contact/)
  • Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) at the soonest possible opportunity and include a statement of support for LAW on this CLP’s social media channels and website. (Cost £25 pa)
  • Campaign to reverse the NEC’s decision to adopt the disputed ‘definition of anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
  • Work to arrange a local screening of the “The Witchhunt” documentary https://witchhuntfilm.org)

Model motion 3

This branch/CLP notes with concern the use of the term (as attributed in the media to a Labour spokesman) “downplaying” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

We believe that of course the Labour Party should combat all forms of racism.

However, accusations of “downplaying” anti-Semitism (or worse placing it on a par with anti-Semitism itself) have the potential to inhibit the freedom of all Labour Party members to discuss the issues relating to racism in the Party. They should for example be able to:

  • Challenge the assertion that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. This has been repeated so many times that it has become established fact, despite the conclusions of the Chakrabati report and an all-party Home Affairs Select Committee that anti-Semitism and other types of racism are not endemic within Labour
  • Question whether the characterisation of the Labour Party as a racist organisation is fair or even in some cases politically motivated
  • Judge based on the data the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party and whether the Party’s procedures and actions are effective and proportionate
  • Discuss whether the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is appropriate
  • Speak out on cases of injustice within the Labour Party
  • Resist any curbs on legitimate freedom of speech and any move towards a culture of denunciation

This branch/CLP  therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby (Labour Party General Secretary) and Shami Chakrabarti (Shadow Attorney General) with a copy of this motion
  • Submit this motion to local Constituency Labour Parties as necessary